03 December 2010

Frozen Hackney Marshes

Days until I come home: 14
Days until Christmas: 22
Items separating me from the hols: 1 IPME presentation, 2 IPME lectures/seminars, 1 OSINT seminar, 1 theories paper (3000 words), 1 theories lecture/seminar
Current Temperature: Outside: -4 °C; Inside my room: -3°C and breezy

Yesterday Drew & I celebrated our 11 month anniversary :) And in 14 days (basically 13 since it is so late here) we will be reunited after 90 long days apart. (Critics like to say that our relationship is so successful because we have spent most of those 11 months in different countries. Whatever, you naysayers!)

So...the past few days have been absolute torture for me. My tolerance for the cold seems to have dropped to nil and so each time I step outside is an adventure.

As I mentioned in my last post, it snowed on Monday night/Tuesday morning. The snowfall was fairly heavy throughout Tuesday and then died away during the evening, which meant that Wednesday's cross country race at Hackney Marshes went on as planned. I will admit that even as I was walking through the outskirts of East London towards the course start I was secretly hoping that we would arrive and they would announce that they had canceled it. I wasn't feeling too hot and being in the cold for a prolonged period of time was not my idea of ideal race conditions. Still, my faint hopes of a cancellation were dashed when we met one of the race officials on the Tube,  who talked about how he routinely would run in the snow, including 20-mile runs 'just for fun'. Alright. So basically he was calling us complainers a bunch of pansies. I'll accept that.

We had been told in advance that there were no bathrooms or changing facilities at the race start, and so I was a bit heartened when we found the equivalent of a glorified bus shelter in the midst of the construction site that marked the start. (Most of Hackney Marshes is under development in preparation for the Olympics and so part of the course was through an area that is under construction. This wasn't so much a problem save for the fact that the tractor and truck tracks had frozen thus making for very uneven terrain.) Of course, nature decided that this was the perfect opportunity to call, and so I experienced the incredibly unpleasant experience of 'attending to business' in frigid temperatures. Once again, I am not going to be climbing Mt. Everest anytime soon. Me = wuss.

The race itself wasn't too bad. It was so cold that I ran in a hoodie and gloves, which never happens since I usually get annoyed by too many layers. Still, I probably would have been unable to remove my hoodie prior to the race even if I had wanted to. By that time I had lost almost all dexterity in my fingers and, as I am a bit ashamed to admit, had to get someone else to unbutton my coat for me (might have ended up running in that too otherwise). I haven't run in weather this cold in a long time and so I ended up having a bit of an asthma attack (a huge surprise since I haven't had one in a long time), but it cleared right up within a few minutes of finishing. It's amazing how much the body can tolerate. I remember when asthma attacks would be an hour-long ordeal that resulted in my having to stop everything and lay down. Or, worse, required a trip to the ER (always an adventure in whether or not I would just stop breathing entirely whilst waiting the 6 hours or so in the waiting room) to get a nebulizer treatment.

I ended up finishing 21st out of 55 women, 7th out of 30 in the ULU Championships, and in the top 10 women (somehow?) based on points earned in the last 4 races. After the race was over, we headed to the Eton Athletic Club for hot chocolate, tea, sandwiches, cakes, and the awarding of the medals for the ULU medals. I am pleased to say that KCL cleaned up. Our men's team earned 1st, while our 1st and 2nd women's teams earned 1st and 2nd. So now I have a bit of bling sitting on my desk with which to commemorate my final XC season. :)

It snowed heavily on Wednesday night, which made for an interesting trip to the gym on Thursday morning. As I've mentioned before, my gym is a little under 2 miles away. Walking there along sidewalks that were more similar to ice rinks than suitable walking paths was a bit treacherous even though I had on my mountain climbing boots. I can't even begin to fathom how the woman I saw picking her way through the ice in -4-inch stilettos fared. Why this seemed like a reasonable fashion choice to her that morning is beyond me, but more power to her if she was able to survive the day.

It is interesting to note the disparity between Central London ('the City') and the areas south of the Thames (where I live). While it still seems like a blizzard hit down here and walking down Great Dover Street is an exercise in how skillfully I can maintain my balance whilst skating round on ice, the city center is almost entirely devoid of ice or snow. Remarkable. Still, on the plus side I get to go ice skating for free on my way home (rather, as my way home) while some people pay upwards of 13 or 14 GBP to skate at Somerset House or the National History Museum. They should move to Southwark.

This weekend will be spent working on my Theories of IR essay. I didn't chose the topic, don't like the topic, and don't like theories in general. This is going to be a great weekend. (Sarcasm).

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